Do we have a superstitious belief in widespread superstition?

Is 2013 an Unlucky Year?” Hemant Mehta asks — quickly and correctly answering “No.”

He points us to this Philadelphia Inquirer article: “Those who dread number 13 face a troubling year.”

But it seems the Inky’s Michael Matza couldn’t find any such troubled and dread-filled triskaidekaphobes. Everyone he cites is someone who argues against the irrational fear of the number 13.

If this is such a big deal for so many people, shouldn’t such people be easy to find? When Matza reports that:

An estimated 17 million to 21 million people in the United States experience fear of the ill-fated integer, with symptoms ranging from mild anxiety to full-blown panic attacks, Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., said in a 2004 interview. …

I call shenanigans. First due to the hopeless muddle of the infinite range there — “from mild anxiety to full-blown panic attacks.” So we could be talking about 20.9 million people on the “mild anxiety” end of that range — people whose main discernible “symptom” is saying something like, “Nah, not that one — gimme Jeter. No. 2, duh,” when the bar softball team jerseys are being distributed. And I’m doubtful of the claim that those at the other end of the range are really suffering panic attacks due to the number 13 and not to some other source of trauma or illness.

But mainly I call shenanigans because the source of this statistic is “founder of the Stress Management Center.” So you can pay him to lift the bad juju of your superstitious fears. Hmm.

Anyway, here’s the bit that really intrigued me in this article:

Triskaidekaphobia — the fear of 13 — is a dread so common that some buildings don’t label their 13th floors …

The idea of 13 as an “unlucky number” is a widely known bit of folklore. But does widespread awareness of such folklore really translate into this “dread so common” that Matza’s article asserts and assumes without ever supporting that claim with data or first-hand account?

Say you’re the manager of a 15-story downtown hotel, or even the manager of a 24-unit motor lodge on some stretch of American highway.

If it turns out that, in fact, that tens of millions of your potential customers do have a superstitious dread of the number 13, then renumbering the floors or the units of your business would be a rational business decision. If Mr. Dossey’s dubious figures are correct, then something like 7 percent of the populace has some degree of discomfort with that number, and you might marginally improve your potential business by accounting for that discomfort. Their fear may be baseless and irrational, but it could have a tangible, measurable effect on your business.

But it might also be that this widespread dread of the number 13 is, itself, a baseless and irrational belief. Without far more evidence than Matza’s article provides, it may be that renumbering the floors or units in your business would itself be a form of superstition — an irrational fear of dread-filled potential customers who may not actually exist.

Anyway, Hemant is right — 2013 is no more nor less “lucky” than any other year, just as Friday the 13th is no more nor less “lucky” than any other day.

Unless, of course, you’ve done something to earn an abiding dread of Friday the 13th. In that case, there’s nothing irrational about fearing that date and the haunting visitation it may bring.

But there’s still time — we won’t see another Friday the 13th until September, so you’ve still got nine months to repent and to work for justice.

(That last link goes to “Friday the 13th: A ghost story,” which is my attempt to invent a new legend about the ghost of Frederick Douglass. It hasn’t caught on yet — probably partly due to the way I keep introducing it as “my attempt to invent a new legend.”)

 

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:

Tim LaHaye: dead fundamentalist
Send up a signal and I'll throw you the line
Needed some sand in my flip-flops
The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning
  • Sisuile Butler

    I’m going to point to http://thebloggess.com/2013/01/in-the-library/ as an actual real world example of someone who does have this problem. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    I am just so sorry there is no thirteenth month this year, no “13/13/13”, to go with all the previous series, December 12 of 2012, November 11 of 2011, October 10 of 2010, etc. Now we have to wait 88 years for that to come round again.

    You mean the Frederick Douglas ghost story is not true yet? Well, it should be! And I’m praying various bigots will start remembering accusatory nightmares about the great statesman confronting them and forcing them to see their ugly little selves, things they never dared even breathe of before., to anybody. A little retroactive haunting never hurt anyone.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I am just so sorry there is no thirteenth month this year, no “13/13/13”

    Well now, if you have your Scofield decoder ring calibrated correctly and squint sideways at the Gregorian (i.e., Papist) calendar,  you’ll see quite plainly that 1/13/14 is really 13/13/13.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Isn’t there a story of LBJ being relatively unconcerned about civil rights in the 1950s, and then unexplainably having some kind of epiphany, pushing so hard for civil rights in the 1960s that he was willing to upset an age-old power structure in the South to do it?

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, LBJ was worried the 1957 Civil Rights Act would destroy his party along North-South lines so he killed it.  By the time he made it into the presidency, he had enough political capital to start making changes in spite of Southern bigotry. 

    Frederick Douglass undoubtedly gave him a little nudge as well.   

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I am just so sorry there is no thirteenth month this year, no
    “13/13/13”, to go with all the previous series, December 12 of 2012,
    November 11 of 2011, October 10 of 2010, etc. Now we have to wait 88
    years for that to come round again.

    Lousy Smarch weather.

  • Go_4_tli

    This is, in some sense, falsifiable.  We can see if model 2013 automobiles, for example, sell less well to some level of statistical significance.  Something that’s more widespread and up to individual decisions than building planning.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    2013 looks very ordinary to me.  Hmm, 2013 is not even a prime number.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Now, I’m no math genius, but as I understand it, 2013 also happens to 2000 more than 13, and, therefore, is not 13.

  • Spalanzani

    Yeah, nothing to worry about this year. It’s when we hit 5013 that we’ll have to worry. Everyone knows Judas was the 5,013th person at the feeding of the five thousand.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Wait, but Judas was the 4013th person fed at the Feeding for the 4,000!

  • AnonaMiss

    It may not be catching on in general, Fred, but since you began telling the stories, I’ve begun thinking of Friday the 13ths as days dedicated to the remembrance of Mr. Douglass. 

    I have a Norwegian friend who is annoyed by Americans of Norwegian ancestry trying to celebrate Norwegian national holidays. “Make your own holidays”, he says. “The Feast of George Washington or something.” I’ve been considering putting together a minor ‘pantheon’ of the Saints of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, and populating my life with feast days in their honor, with Fridays the Thirteenth, of course, marked as specially dedicated to the Ghost of Frederick Douglass.

    I’m a little afraid the people in my life will think I’m silly, though.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

     I’ve been considering putting together a minor ‘pantheon’ of the Saints of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, and populating my life with feast days in their honor, with Fridays the Thirteenth, of course, marked as specially dedicated to the Ghost of Frederick Douglass.

    I think that’s a lovely idea, especially if you can populate your pantheon with figures currently lacking in their own holidays. (MLK might be a saint of equality, but he has a holiday, so find a lesser known figure!)

    I could definitely support the Feast of the Pale Blue Dot (November 9th) when we recognize the scope, scale, and awe of the universe in all it’s glory. February 7th could be the Retiring of the Cardigan Sweater, when we pause to remember all who love and loved us, and all the love that made us who we are. June 27th can be the Conversion of the Miser when we try to recognize the wealth we have, and set aside some of our bounty to lift up others.

    I can definitely get behind this idea!

  • Michele Cox

     “I’m a little afraid the people in my life will think I’m silly, though.”

    1. Silly is good!  2. Never, ever, ever refrain from doing something because people may think you’re silly :)  (see #1.)

  • http://twitter.com/miss_michaele Miss Michaele

    I’ve been considering putting together a minor ‘pantheon’ of the Saints of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, and populating my life with feast days in their honor, with Fridays the Thirteenth, of course, marked as specially dedicated to the Ghost of Frederick Douglass.

    I just want you to know you’re not alone.  We also celebrate Bayard Rustin’s Birthday at my house, with a vegetarian feast, a toke, and plans to make some kind of angelic trouble during the year.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve been considering putting together a minor ‘pantheon’ of the Saints
    of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, and populating my life with feast
    days in their honor, with Fridays the Thirteenth, of course, marked as
    specially dedicated to the Ghost of Frederick Douglass.

    Ooo. I like.

    Does it necessarily have to be ‘Fraternity’, though? Is there a gender-neutral term for the concept? Or, looking up the slogan on Wiki, liberté and égalité were consistently used but fraternité wasn’t always the third–maybe unity, or charity, or friendship? (that last rhymes better in French)

  • vsm

    I’d go with solidarity.

  • Carstonio

    I’ve long suspected that superstitions are self-fulfilling prophecies combined with confirmation biases. The mild anxiety could subconsciously affect people’s actions, plus they might have stronger memories of, bad events that take place on the 13th.

  • Jessica_R

    My birthday is on the 13th which I always can use as an excuse for my sometimes rotten luck rather than my rather unfortunate lack of work ethic. My Grandfather’s apartment building in D.C. skipped from 12 to 14 on the elevator buttons too. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    use as an excuse for my sometimes rotten luck rather than my rather unfortunate lack of work ethic

    I see what you did there.

  • EdinburghEye

    I was born on Friday the 13th, too, and my brother used to taunt me that this made me especially unlucky.

    I counter-proposed that this meant that on Friday the 13ths, all of us who had this day as our birthday got all the good luck that was going, which was why all the people born on other days got less luck on our day.

    I swear, I think it’s caught on…

  • EllieMurasaki

    That would explain a few things. If luck’s the deciding factor, things tend to go my way. It’s the things I do (or don’t do) without thinking of the consequences that fuck me over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    My grandfather was another of those born on a 13th, and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it was a Friday as well – though I may just be confusing that with every time it arrived on a Friday and someone noting it. Still, he lived to a ripe old age, was still surprisingly physically fit when he went, had his share of medical and other misfortunes, but also lived most of his life with the woman he fell in love with at first sight, and fell in love-at-first-sight with him as well. He always swore he wouldn’t die first because there was no way he’d go and leave her alone, but that he’d be right behind her. After she passed on, it was less than a year before he went.

    It was sad to see them go, but if going together with the one you’ve loved for fifty-some years and leaving behind a lot of people who love and remember you… if that’s bad luck, damn, what would I want with good?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    My grandmother died three days after my grandfather. She had serious memory problems due to multiple strokes, so my family did not tell her about his death — she would not remember anyway and it would just be cruel for the few minutes that she could understand it. (He was still living on his own, though with some assistance; she had to live in a nursing home.) But her pastor decided to negate the family’s decision and tell her anyway. And she had her last stroke. 

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    First, I have NEVER been in a high-rise hotel that had a 13th floor.  It appears to have grown from a superstition to a tradition in the hotel industry.

    And I don’t know the name for the phobia, but fear of the number 666 is probably up there with 13 in the Christianese bubble.

  • rrhersh

     “First, I have NEVER been in a high-rise hotel that had a 13th floor.  It
    appears to have grown from a superstition to a tradition in the hotel
    industry.”

    This sounds like theater people talking about “The Scottish play”.  Do any of them really think that anything bad would come from saying “Macbeth”?  I doubt any significant number do.  But it becomes in insider thing.

  • JayemGriffin

    Really? Nearly every theatre person I know has a “Someone said M**B*** and then something bad happened, DO NOT SAY THAT IN HERE” story. Also they panic when you turn the ghostlight off. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Most of the theatre folks in my theatre group  don’t take this seriously, but we nevertheless don’t say “Macbeth” because it’s a social convention not to say “Macbeth.” Admittedly, it’s not clear how someone new to the group would be able to tell the difference.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I’m surprised the practice doesn’t tempt less serious folks to give in to their worst impulses… (Black Adder skit attached)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h–HR7PWfp0

  • Kiba

    Ha! When I was in college and my roommates decided to throw one of their parties at our place we had some of the theatre kids there and they were talking about “the Scottish Play.” I was unfamiliar with the superstition and gave them a blank look then went, “Ohhhh! You mean Macbeth!” They proceeded to freak out to the point that it went from slightly amusing to incredibly irritating** rather quickly, so I ended up saying Macbeth a lot that night because I get mean when people irritate me. 

    **They had that snotty attitude of the actors in your Black Adder clip and that never goes over well with me. 

  • Matri

    Carl: Hey Jimmy, I heard that the play Macbeth has a curse and you’re not supposed to say “Macbeth” because if you say “Macbeth” bad things will happen because you said “Macbeth” and we’ve been saying “Macbeth” a lot, and congratulations on getting the role of Macbeth… *gasp* I SAID MACBETH!

  • P J Evans

     The building I work in doesn’t have a 13th floor. No equipment floor, there, either, so it’s really not there.

  • rizzo

    Really?  Have you only been in old hotels?  Actually, even the old hotels I’ve been have a 13th floor, at least the ones in the NY/NJ/PA area.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Only if the LAX Marriott, Adams Mark Philadelphia, and Pittsburg Convention Center Westin are “old hotels”.

  • fraser

     There’s an excellent book I read on the 13 superstition that quotes hotel-industry people who say they’ve never run into anyone who really worries about the 13th floor. But skipping it doesn’t cause them any problems, so why not just go ahead?

  • stardreamer42

    I’m pretty sure that I have been in hotels that had 13th floors, but they were newer ones. And I’ve never seen a hotel floor numbering plan that skipped rooms ending in 13. I stay in a lot of hotels because my partner and I are science fiction convention dealers.

  • flat

    Well the only people who were unlucky on friday the thirteen were the knight templars, and afterwards the french king and the pope who ordered their death.

    (the king and the pope died in the same year)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Knights templar.

  • DorothyD

    Well, my grandmother once insisting on eating in her room rather than be the 13th person at the dining table. But that was specifically an objection to “13 people at the dining table” and not the number 13 in and of itself and maybe she just wanted to dine alone anyway…

  • Jim Roberts

    Well, the oldest versions of the fear do seem to revolve around a meal involving 13 people, so may she was just superstitious, not phobic.

  • Freak

    Well, the tradition about 13 at dinner is allegedly because of what happened at The Last Supper.

    (Then again, the Greeks also had a problem with 13, with Hestia / Vesta stepping down when Bacchus / Dionysius was denoted a god.)

  • fraser

     According to the book I mentioned above, the earliest accounts of triskedekaphobia are in that specific “13 at dinner” form.  The idea of Friday the 13th being unlucky the book traces to a novel “Friday, the 13th” written in the early 20th century.

  • lovecomesfromlife

    I love the number 13, it’s my birthday date!  It always seemed extra special that the date that other people avoided could be embraced by me.  I did turn 16 (and became legal to drive) on a Friday the 13th….

  • EllieMurasaki

    High-five! Born on Friday the 13th, here.

  • The_L1985

    Likewise! As an added bonus, I was a scheduled C-section. So I was deliberately born on Friday 13th.

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    2013 will be an unlucky year for some people: every year is. It’ll also be the best year ever for some people.

  • hidden_urchin

    I’m hoping to be in the latter group.  Twenty-twelve sucked for me.  So did twenty-eleven.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m due a good one.

  • John Small Berries

    I’ve witnessed with my own eyes at least a dozen people purchasing an additional small item if their total (or change) contains the numbers “666” ($6.66, $16.66, etc.), but I’ve never seen it with the number “13”. I’ve never witnessed anyone hesitate before pressing the elevator button for the 13th floor. I’ve heard lots of ironic references to “Well, it’s Friday the 13th” whenever something’s gone wrong on such a date, but never one that seemed genuinely concerned. And I’ve never met anyone who admitted to being afraid of the number 13.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I’ve heard tell of people requesting new SSNs for their children when those SSNs contained three consecutive sixes. My thinking is if you’re really that concerned about the Mark of the Beast, you wouldn’t be requesting an SSN in the first place.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Having no SSN makes it hard to get paying work, and not all the people freaked by 666 are people who expect the world to not be here by the time someone born today would be looking for paying work.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Having no SSN makes it hard to get paying work…

    “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.” ~Rev 13:16-17

    But, yeah, I’ll cop to it. I used to get freaked out by the number 666 when I was a teenager, but after I mention some End-Times nonsense to my priest, he basically said the Catholic Church doesn’t buy into any of stuff, that because the Book of Revelation was addressed to the 1st century church, 20th century readers should read it as a parable about earthly power, etc. Also, in some manuscripts, the number is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_the_Beast#616"616.

    A few years about, a friend of mine got obsessed by the number 11 (particularly on clocks), which was a cosmic red flag according to a book on numerology he had; and then, by extension, he became obsessed with all double numbers (what with them being multiples of 11). I suggested that since he was was actively looking at clocks and everywhere else offor confirmation of this pattern, he was simply noticing that, yeah, sometimes there’s an 11 (or 22 or 33 or 44 etc.). His wife then started noticing it too.

    To this day, he credits the number 11 for warning him of the impending break-up of his marriage because, apparently, the fighting, cheating,and lying wasn’t enough. /smug superiority*

    *Who am I kidding? I can’t turn that shit off.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Uh. Huh. Linkfail.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s different. It’s like Sam’s Club. No membership card, no buying from Sam’s Club, only all the stores are Sam’s Club. Not at all the same thing as having no money with which to buy anything from anybody, though I admit it goes a similar place in the end (assuming all transactions are legal ones).

  • Andy

    On the subject of the number 11, part of the recent Mayan non-apocalypse nonsense was the fact that the winter solstice supposedly occurred at 11:11 GMT. That obviously must mean something! In fact, the solstice was actually at 11:12 GMT; at least one website, however, stated that the U.S. Naval Observatory had changed the time from 11:11, as part of a conspiracy I guess.

    Of course, even if the solstice were exactly at 11:11 GMT, the cause and effect would still be rather shaky. (Winter solstice at 11:11 => world ends–a  few steps seem to be left out there. As they say, show your work.)

    Also, for what it’s worth, 2013 is divisible by 11 (2013=183 x 11=3 x 61 x11). Probably nothing apocalyptic though; otherwise the world would end every 11 years.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    (Winter solstice at 11:11 => world ends–a few steps seem to be left out there. As they say, show your work.)

    1)  Collect Underpants
    2)  ?????
    3)  Profit!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I heard from a friend about a woman in front of him in line at a store who totally lost her shit when the total on the cash register came to $6.66

    Also, federal government phone numbers in Vancouver start off as 666-xxxx :P

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I bought a hard drive about 20 years ago; the price came to $666 (for a mere 50MB!) so the salesperson insisted on taking a dollar off it. I just thought “yeah, whatever, stop wasting my time.”

    Wish I’d known that “The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 at a price of US$666.66, because Wozniak “liked repeating digits” and because they originally sold it to a local shop for $500 plus a one-third markup.”” – could’ve told the salesguy that (he was kind of annoying in general).

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Our local ABC radio station is 666 AM. Haven’t heard of anyone being upset by it, just amused. The station’s ads say “the number of the be(a)st”.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    When my family owned a small print shop (Most copies were self-serve. Neither my dad nor customers were amused that I put a picture of Judge Dredd over the notice that “You must pay for your mistakes” but I was.)

    ANyway… $6.66 came up a LOT. It happened to be the tax-included price for some round number of copies I can’t do the math for right now. We had a lot of strange people that the total bothered. Sometimes sold them an extra copy or two to prevent it.

  • Kiba

    Also, federal government phone numbers in Vancouver start off as 666-xxxx :P

    You know, I would actually like to get a phone number that was 666-6666. One, I’m pretty sure quite a few people would stop calling me and, two, it would be the only phone number that didn’t take me years to memorize. 

  • hidden_urchin

    Just think of the possible answering machine messages:
    “Hello, you’ve dialed Hell.  Satan is unable to come to the phone right now but if you leave your name, number, and a brief message a minion will get back to you as soon as possible. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!”

  • Kiba

    I would have waaaay too much fun with that . ^_^

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    After moving into a new town years ago, I dialed a bunch of interesting numbers in the hope that they were free, one of which was 666-related (I no longer remember the exact number). Someone answered “This is central switching, what can I do for you” and in context that was suddenly very creepy and understated.

  • Indiana Joe

    [block]You know, I would actually like to get a phone number that was 666-6666.[/block]

    You’d be surprised at how many taxi/limo companies have that as their number.

  • fraser

     I had a customer once “show” me how all bar codes actually add up to 6-6-6.

  • vsm

    I make a point of being mildly paranoid on Friday the 13th. It’s a delightful tradition.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I suppose you’re one of the freaks who watches horror movies in order to be scared sleepless, too.

  • vsm

     I like horror movies, but they don’t really scare me enough to make me lose sleep. For that, I need to read creepypastas like Candle Cove.

  • hidden_urchin

    Why?  Why did you introduce me to creepypasta?  Now I’ll never sleep again.

    I’ll be too busy reading.

  • vsm

    Just spreading the word.

  • AnonymousSam

    Just break your brain on a particularly bad one. One or two doses of THEN WHO WAS PHONE ought to do it.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Here’s some more concentrated creepyawesome for your perusal :D

    I’ll just post the url bare, since I don’t seem to remember the HTML for turning things into active links. Since I’m bombed out of my skull on cough meds, most likely it wouldn’t turn out well anyway. 

    http://www.somethingawful.com/d/daily-dirt/instruction-for-america.php?page=1

  • Ima Pseudonym

     Hey, it made itself clickable.  Awesome.

  • Indiana Joe

    For those of us who shorten the date in the American fashion, today is 1/3/13.

  • The_L1985

    Oh hey, my birth day’s on a Friday this year. :)

    I was born on Friday 13th, so it’s always kind of nice to see it happen again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Gosh, would that year of your birth, by any chance, be 1985? ;)

  • The_L1985

     …

    I just realized that I have given people all the information they need in order to find out who I am.  Please don’t look that up.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    If 2013 is unluckier for me than 2012 and 2011, I will probably officially give up. Though the end of 2012 was good in that I got married.

    But I expect 2013 to be an improvement, because I have health insurance thanks to our current president. So I will be able to get surgery. Not luck, but the hard work of innumerable people over decades or even centuries. 

    I did manage a spectacular fall out of the shower last night, though, taking the curtain and rod with me. That was sort of bad luck and sort of not realizing that the occasional lightheadedness I’ve been feeling lately means I should not attempt a shower. Never, ever shower when you have a bad sinus infection that has spread to your ears. 

    Oh and my dad has pneumonia. He’s not old enough for it to be a really serious worry yet, but he’ll probably have to go to the hospital because antibiotics aren’t working.

  • hidden_urchin

    Liking the getting married and health insurance part.  Disliking the sinus infection and sick dad part.  I hope y’all get to feeling better soon and congrats on your marriage!

  • The_L1985

     I’ve had that sort of fall before.  I’m glad you weren’t badly hurt by it, though, and hope your sinuses are better soon.

    Also, sending good energy to your dad.  Antibiotic-resistant pneumonia sounds like a really nasty time. :(

  • Timothy T.

    I felt very much the same way about the hoohar over the ‘mayan apocalypse’. Despite widespread and numerous debunkings in the media and online and people complaining about other people (just ‘other people’) who believed the world was going to end I saw nothing to indicate that anyone at all actually  believed it to be a real thing. Of course there were some crazies who believed in it but I saw no trace of them (I must not have been visiting the right websites).

  • ReverendRef

    Personally, I’ve always thought Monday  the 13th was always more unlucky than Friday the 13th. 

    If I were Emperor of the Universe and Everything, there would be a 13/13/13 — because I’d institute a calendar with 13 months, 28 days per month, every month beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday.  Nothing torques me off more than having to deal with those ridiculous 23/30 and 24/31 half day things on current calendars.

    And just because I always put my left sock on first does not mean I’m superstitious, it just means I’m meticulous.

  • christopher_y

    I’d institute a calendar with 13 months, 28 days per month, every month beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday.

    Where would you intercalate* the odd day, or days in a leap year?

    *The free online dictionary reassures me I’m not making that word up.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    In fact, the solstice was actually at 11:12 GMT; at least one website, however, stated that the U.S. Naval Observatory had changed the time from 11:11, as part of a conspiracy I guess.

    I like how the US Naval Observatory apparently has the power to change the time of the solstice now.

  • Magic_Cracker
    In fact, the solstice was actually at 11:12 GMT; at least one website, however, stated that the U.S. Naval Observatory had changed the time from 11:11, as part of a conspiracy I guess.

    I like how the US Naval Observatory apparently has the power to change the time of the solstice now.

    You see, what they do is launch a very powerful rocket toward the east…

  • Magic_Cracker

    Or is it to the west?

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    I like how the US Naval Observatory apparently has the power to change the time of the solstice now.

    Probably in collusion with the International Earth Rotation Service…

  • MaryKaye

    If you wrote 11:11 in Mayan numbers it wouldn’t look like anything special; they use base 20.  (Eleven is dot over two horizontal bars:  two fives and one in the ones place.)

    I did a report on this in high school, can you tell?
     

  • arghous

    A superstitious belief in unlucky number 13 might or might not be widespread superstitious, but as has already been pointed out, belief in unlucky number 666 most definitely is widespread superstitious.

    Why didn’t Nancy Reagan’s astrologer ease her poor, credulous mind about her Bel-Air address?  Oh, wait…

    No, I take that back.  The Bible has always had plenty of room for all manner of numerological nonsense.  You can call shenanigans all you want, but if anything is primed for glorious superstition, it’s Christianity, and that is, alas, quite widespread.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

    I also have a birthday on a 13th, but  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t born on a Friday. I won’t have another Friday birthday until 2015, but I usually look forward to them. The last one did lead into a pretty bad year, but nothing worth posting at length about. And Friday birthdays are better than most for celebrating in some ways.

  • Keulan

    I don’t know how widespread fear of the number 13 is, but Mitch Hedberg make a few jokes about it. Superstitious fear of the number 666 might be more common.

  • MaryKaye

    What number system was used for the numbers in _Revelation_?  It was written in Greek but I have no idea what the native numbering system looked like.  Like Roman numerals, or something else?

    It’s interesting that no one is afraid of 616.  The shape of a number has a huge effect on its perceived importance.  (I once woke up from a night terror and saw the digital clock reading “1:11”.  Convinced that it was a bomb and was about to explode, I yanked it out of  its socket, threw it on the bed, and…went back to sleep.  I had some explaining to do in the morning.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    ISTR a story being told about a person who died at 8:20 and strange events after that happened such that objects would create angles of 140 degrees (which is about the angle the hands on a clock would make to register that time).

    Not sure it makes sense with so little context, but the oddest numbers (if you’ll pardon the accidental pun w/ odd-even) seem to create weird situations.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    In my family Friday 13th was a running joke because supposedly we always had good luck on it for some reason.

    I now live in a maisonette with the number 13 because when we were looking for a ground floor flat (mum was in a wheelchair) mum decided the fact it was number 13 meant it would be lucky.

    How 13 became associated with good luck in my family I don’t know. My gran was supersticious to the point it got silly. Touch wood if you say anything positive about the future (or the wood spirits will stop it happening to punish you), no daffodils in the house (someone will die), don’t walk under ladders (I invariably walk under ladders and have done since I was teen – it was a minor rebellion), don’t do this, don’t do that, do this, do that or the universe will punish you. Looking back I wonder if she wasn’t suffering from OCD (she had other rituals that had nothing to do with superstition like cleaning the house daily from top to bottom in a particular order) on top of her other (diagnosed) mental health issues. Yet in spite of this she loved the number 13.

  • Donalbain

    How 13 became associated with good luck in my family I don’t know. 

    Almost certainly confirmation bias. Something good happens. You notice it is Friday the 13th, you all laugh. Then a few months later, another good thing happens and you notice that its Friday the 13th and you laugh again as you remember that you laughed about it before. Thus a “pattern” is established.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     Yeah, that’s plausible.

  • quietglow

    I’m afraid Frederick Douglass is too awesome to become a terrifying story. I dread ghost movies, but if you told me he was going to drop in for a spot of haunting, I’d stay up with a plate of cookies.

    It’s like the thought of being haunted by Clara Barton.

  • ReverendRef

    Where would you intercalate* the odd day, or days in a leap year?

    I would but it alternately between December/January and June/July.  This would give us that extra day AND it would be a mandatory vacation day for everyone.  And by alternating i, the winter fans and summer fans would be equally happy.

    I’m not sure what it means that I’ve thought about it this much . . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Look up the Shire calendar.  It might fit the bill pretty closely, and you could always tweak it if it’s not quite right yet for Your Imperial Majesty’s demands.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X